It seems like there are two different approaches to this question.
This first camp says that our culture is becoming increasingly child-centered (which I agree with), and that encouraging kids to reach for their dreams and telling them that they can be whatever they want to be just feeds into that and is simply not true.
The second camp believes that parents are children’s biggest cheerleaders and that if we don’t encourage them to reach for their dreams, no one will.
I’ve thought about this lot, and we’ve decided to encourage our children that they can be anything they want to be.
However, we don’t leave it there. We also talk a lot about the hard work that goes into being an Olympic skier (Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso are still regularly mentioned around here after the last winter Olympics), about the education required to become an archeologist and about the practice that it takes to become a world champion soccer player.
In The Skinny on Success: Why not you?, Jim Randel gives example of example of people who achieved greatness, not because they were genetically predispositioned for it, but because they worked their tails off to do it. That’s what we want to instill in our girls.
I also love the story of Kevin Carroll, who gave the opening keynote at Blissdom ’10. Kevin is not a tall man, but he shared with us that as a child growing up in poverty he wanted nothing more than to be in the NBA. An unlikely dream, sure, but Kevin went on to achieve this dream in his own way, becoming the Head Athletic Trainer for the Philadelphia 76ers.
So our goal is to be realistic and encourage our kids to really pursue their dreams. We don’t make unrealistic promises, but we don’t discourage their dreams or goals either.
Today I want to know…
Do you teach your kids that they can be whatever they want to be?
How do you balance encouraging their dreams with reality?
Do you think that encouraging your kids to “reach for the stars” is an example of an overly child-centered culture?
Do you feel that encouraging unrealistic dreams sets kids up for disappointment?
Looking forward to reading your answers!